For decades, investment managers have been largely split into two groups: fundamental investors and quantitative investors. And so, it is not surprising that we are often asked to choose a side. But it’s not that simple: we use a unique style, marrying a systematic approach, which minimises behaviour biases, with a fundamental analysis.
In our latest edition of Equitorial, we explain why we adopt an integrated investment approach and how it shapes our research agenda.
Lewis joined Hermes in February 2008 as a portfolio manager on the Global Equities team. In addition to his role as portfolio manager, Lewis is responsible for designing and implementing many of the team's systems. In particular he created Hermes' proprietary risk-modelling system, MultiFRAME, which is used across Hermes’ investment teams. He joined from Aon Consulting, where he worked as an actuarial consultant specialising in providing valuations and asset-liability modelling to a range of corporate and institutional clients. Lewis graduated from the University of Warwick in 2003 with a Master's degree in Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics and subsequently qualified as a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries.
Our seminal paper, ESG investing: does it just make you feel good, or is it actually good for your portfolio?, published in 2014, demonstrated the performance benefits of integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment decisions.
Inflows into ethical funds topped £164m in July, up from £101m the previous month, according to the Investment Association Monthly Statistics for July 2018 from The Investment Association. Lewis Grant, Global Equities Senior Portfolio Manager at Hermes Investment Management, questions what ‘ethical investing’ really means, its implications and dispels investors’ common misconceptions.
Let’s start at the very beginning
When deciding whether to shift to an ethical investment portfolio, investors first need to go back to basics and set a clear definition of what they constitute as ‘ethical’. Since there is no universal definition, it can be surprising how much variation there is between investors.
Exclusion or ‘negative screening’ perhaps offers investors the most direct approach to aligning their money with their morals. It is the oldest ethical investment method, and it’s easy to see why. Carving out entire sectors, companies or countries from a portfolio offers a relatively simple and transparent way for investors to express their particular ethical views and removes subjectivity.
Market behaviour can be extremely erratic which can create a huge amount of uncertainty when predicting the future. In this insight, Lewis Grant, Global Equities Senior Portfolio Manager at Hermes Investment Management, explains why he therefore favours a consistent, boring approach over one that is fuelled by sentiment and hype.
Excitement in investment is rarely a good thing. It can create hype which in turn can lead to irrational behaviour. If we take Bitcoin as an example, hype around investment in the cryptocurrency drove the asset class to grow at a phenomenal rate and for a while, this sentiment-led growth may have left investors feeling excited about potential returns. Price momentum can act as an incredibly effective investment signal but it can also be a dangerous one. We believe it is important to remain emotionally unbiased as euphoria should not be the goal of investing.
That is not to say such hyper-growth investments need to be avoided altogether, but instead understood in a risk controlled portfolio and as part of a disciplined, diversified approach.